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AnnaNJ, if this has to do with using a shower or bathtub, with anyone getting older [even myself] there is the constant fear of falling, and any place within the shower/tub will be a very hard landing. And as Glad had mentioned above, water on an elder's skin might hurt..... as when we get older our skin will become like tissue paper.

Another thing, some elders become claustrophobic of small places such as a shower.

Buy nice smelling baby wipes that one can use between showering. There are also wipes for adults but I think the baby wipes are less expensive.

See if you can find some rose dusting powder as that was a favorite scent for those who are in their 80's and 90's.
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in people with dementia the shower may actually hurt them so causes anxiety. Maybe they feel unstable and need help.
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My MIL does the same thing. My father did the same thing too. My brother had to hire a nurse to come in and bath him and that worked out well.
I am trying to figure out how to do the same thing for my MIL.
I have to also beg and plead with my own husband who has issues to take a shower.
You are not alone.
I think the washing thing is no longer important to them? My father expressed that he didn't like the water in his face and since he didn't sweat much...he didn't need to wash up much.

It doesn't always make sense.
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